I was up late last night, as I usually am on Monday and Wednesday nights since my first class on Tuesday and Thursday is at 12:30. I was doing my usual thing of blogging, listening to music, and playing a ridiculous number of games of Solitaire (don't judge). Not long before I went to bed, I saw Taylor had retweeted last night's blog post.
While Taylor tweeting a link to one of my blogs isn't exactly a surprise considering he's done it many times before, the comment he attached to it definitely caught my attention. "Setting the Bible Belt on fire" is one of the highest compliments I have ever received.
This afternoon, I texted him asking him if that post is his new favorite. He said "Yea...I get pretty excited when somebody preaches the word straight up like you do." I asked him what he liked, and he said "that it was a salvation message. The urgency of the fundamentals of salvation for all." I told him that wasn't even what I was thinking about when I wrote it, and he quoted a piece of my own writing back to me. (It's amazing how you can have your mind in one place when you say something, and then someone else hears/reads it and takes it in a completely different direction.) A little bit later, a text from him really struck me.
You're encouraging. It's rare one is as radical as you. You're still learning, too...You'll only get better at it from here.
Blame it on the sickness I've been fighting, but I had to make sure radical meant what I thought it meant/he meant by it. Taylor wrote "Radical just means a Christian who lives by the scriptures."
Well, there's conviction if I've ever seen it.
The knowledge that someone sees me as radical, especially someone who knows some of my greatest struggles and shortcomings, gives me a greater "I'm-not-doing-enough" feeling than just about anything I've ever experienced. Because the second I read that text, I had to sit back for a minute and absorb the fact that that is exactly what I want to be. If you look back at my One Word post from the beginning of this year, I think that I wanted to be radical even then, I just didn't know the word.
See, up until....well, I guess up until now, the word "radical" had a negative connotation to me. I knew it meant essentially "extreme," but I thought it was, like, crazy extreme, the kind of extreme that everyone else makes fun of. Since everything in 2012 can be found on the internet and I don't actually have a book dictionary in my room, I wanted to see what the internet said radical meant, and dictionary.com lists this as one of its definitions for the word: "thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms". Um, anyone else think that sounds a lot like what Jesus was doing? He was treated like an insane man because he dared to question the traditional rules and customs that had been put in place. He went around telling people that a God in Heaven wanted them to live a different way, pretty much the polar opposite from the life they and their ancestors for generations before them had been raised in. It doesn't sound like extreme is always a bad thing to me...
What I didn't know is that according to thesaurus.com, the word radical also means fundamental or basic. It goes on to list several synonyms (because, duh, it's a thesaurus) for radical, including: essential, foundational, inherent, innate, organic, and vital. Vital. One of the biggest things I've learned through the trials in my life is that God is vital to my survival. I've gotten much better at correcting my friends every time one of them tells me I'm strong, stopping them to remind them that I am not strong - God is. Face something that rocks your entire world, and sooner or later, you'll probably come to grips with the fact that God's grace, power, and mercy is vital to pulling through to the other side of tragedy.
But what about when you're not dealing with something huge and scary and heartbreaking? Does the same still apply then? Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, yes. To give as simple of an explanation for my reasoning as I can, I'll go with this - as a Christian, you've been told that while on this earth, you need to make it your constant mission to live more like Jesus (or something similar to this), right? Well, I don't see how you can do that without God and His guidance. And what is the closest tangible connection any of us has to God's guidance? The Bible. It's His words poured out through the hands of men. Reading Scripture is the only real way that any of us can be even close to sure that we're doing right in our attempts to live like Jesus did. I know this is one of those "cliché" Christian things to say, and I know I hated hearing it before I wasn't a Christian, but now I know it's true - no matter what is happening in your life, good or bad, you can find God's answer in how to deal with it in the Bible. It's essential to living as a Christian in a broken, sinful world.
So yeah, now I look at the word "radical" in a completely new way. And I'm more convicted than ever to live it out.
(And before anyone asks, no, I haven't read "Radical" by David Platt yet, but it's at the top of my once-I-get-my-Christmas-money shopping list.)